Building stronger food systems to strengthen resilience and help the most vulnerable after COVID-19 in Senegal 

A woman holds a bowl of beans as she stands in the middle of a lush field of crops.
Photo: FAO

More than 2 billion people lack regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. 

Agricultural productivity has improved considerably in recent decades and global production has become sufficient enough to feed everyone. Yet, our food systems are unbalanced. Hunger, obesity, environmental degradation, loss of agrobiodiversity, food loss and waste, and lack of security for workers in the food chain are just a few of the issues demonstrating this imbalance. 

More than 2 billion people lack regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, 135 million people across 55 countries and territories face acute food insecurity and need emergency food, nutrition and livelihood assistance.  

The data published in the Global Report on Food Crises 2020 is the result of a joint, consensus-based assessment of acute food insecurity  around the world by 16 organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food programme (WFP). 

As part of the efforts required to provide everyone with healthy, affordable and sustainable food and enable food system workers to have decent livelihoods, World Food Day 2020 called for the creation of more resilient and robust food systems. 

Celebrated this year under the theme "Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our Future", the 40th edition of World Food Day aimed to raise awareness of how everyone has a role to play in transforming our food systems by changing the way we produce, process, consume and waste food.  

About 14 per cent of the food produced for human consumption is lost every year before it reaches the wholesale market. More than 3 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet and most of these people live in rural and remote areas. Smallholder farmers need better access to finance, training, innovation and technology to improve their livelihoods.  

The global population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050, which will significantly increase the demand for food. The steady increase in hunger since 2014, after a decade of progress, indicates that there is a need to accelerate and scale-up action to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of food systems and livelihoods. 

Taking action together to ensure access to food for all  

World Food Day 2020, which marked the 75th anniversary of FAO, was celebrated in a quite exceptional context where the entire world is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

On this occasion, several UN agencies, including FAO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and World Health Organization (WHO), warned that the pandemic has not only led to a dramatic loss of human life, but also constitutes an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and employment. This day was thus also a call for global solidarity to help the most vulnerable to recover from the crisis. 

As countries begin to develop and implement COVID-19 recovery plans, FAO calls for cooperation to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 on food security and agricultural livelihoods is addressed through innovative solutions.  

Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is—and will continue to be—an essential part of the COVID-19 response, especially for the world's poorest and most vulnerable who are hardest hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic shocks.  

In order to preserve the planet's natural resources and climate and protect our health, FAO promotes better social protection systems and advocates for the use of new opportunities provided by digitization and e-commerce, and more sustainable agricultural practices. However, no action can be transformative if it fails to be collective or inclusive.  

Governments, the private sector and civil society must ensure that our food systems can produce a variety of nutrients to feed a growing population while also preserving the planet.  

On 16 October 2020, the Government of Senegal, through its Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment, and FAO held the official ceremony of World Food Day at the Diamniadio ministerial sphere in Dakar, under the chairmanship of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment Moussa Baldé. A scientific conference was held via videoconferencing on 15 October to discuss food issues and highlight various initiatives implemented by the government, technical and financial partners, the private sector, civil society, producer organizations, and more, to build sustainable food systems.   

Caption: Show your appreciation for the world's #FoodHeroes by sharing the #WorldFoodDay video on social media!

Produced by the UN in Senegal. Written by Yacine Cissé. This article was originally published in French to the UN in Senegal website on 16 October 2020. To learn more about the work being done in the country, visit:

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Fund for Agricultural Development
World Food Programme

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